Is there a better sounding, better looking acoustic guitar than a Martin?
For one hundred and eighty four years, C.F. Martin & Co. has been producing flattop guitars celebrated as the gold standard. They are prized for their power and balance, deep resonant bass and crisp, clear treble. From Paul McCartney to Eric Clapton, Neil Young to Sheryl Crow, Martin counts hundreds of stellar performers as loyal patrons. Mark Twain strummed one, as did Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain. Members of the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons do as well. Commemorative and deluxe first editions rise above the rigors of daily play to stand as superlative works of art.
It all began when German immigrant Christian Frederick Martin sailed to America and opened a shop in New York City in 1833. Six years later he moved to Nazareth, Pa. where he built the first guitar factory. In any American industry, Martin has few rivals for sheer staying power. Handed down through six generations, it's currently steered by C.F. (Chris) Martin IV. He took the leadership role at age 30 after the death of his grandfather in 1986.
The company just hit a major milestone: the production of its two millionth guitar. In a nod to Martin's durability and longevity the guitar's theme was "Passage of Time." It was a show-stopper. Unveiled at the National Association of Music Merchants show in Anaheim, Calif. in mid-January, it featured a D-45 style body with the back and sides constructed from Brazilian rosewood while the top is crafted from highly-figured bearclaw Engelmann spruce. The company partnered with America’s premier watchmaker RGM Watch, of nearby Mt. Joy, Pa., to create a stunning one-of-a-kind, fully playable model with a custom working RGM timepiece built into the headstock of the guitar.
Elon Musk brings new meaning to the word irrepressible.
In early March the SpaceX founder and CEO stunned the spaceflight community by announcing the first joy ride into space. In 2018 he plans to launch one of his rockets to transport not astronauts, but two wealthy private citizens around the moon. The pair have already put down a “significant deposit” for the 300,000 mile trip that will take a week. This will be the first private company to take civilians beyond lower Earth orbit.
When Musk dreamed up the idea for his commercial space exploration company 15 years ago his core principle was to recycle flight-proven rockets, a strategy that would dramatically reduce the cost of space travel and make it more available for commercial audiences.
When a two-stage, 23-story tall Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 6:27 p.m. on March 30 from Complex 39a at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Musk's dream turned into reality. Originally flown in April 2015, the booster rocket returned nine minutes later settling softly on the bulls-eye of the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic 200 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral.
They dodged a bullet last year. When Tropical Storm Hermione finally veered out to sea, the crews of 68 mono hull sailboats awoke Labor Day weekend to lively northeast winds on a sun-splashed morning, scattered cotton clouds racing across the skies.
It was the start of the 89th Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race. The oldest continuing yacht race on Narragansett Bay, the competition is easily one of the most popular staged all year long in New England. Flying their colorful spinnakers, the boats sailed under the iconic Jamestown Verrazzano and Claiborne Pell bridges and passed by the watchful eye of Beavertail Lighthouse.
The race creates a magical backdrop to the annual Jamestown seaside car show set on a bluff overlooking the Bay at the Fort Getty town park. They are just a couple of the fun events that the quaint and quiet village holds each summer.
By the 1300s the island of "Quinunicut" served as a summer camp for the Narragansetts, the largest of the area American Native American tribes. Artifacts spanning a 3,000 year period have been recovered from a site near the local elementary school. The island was purchased from the Naragansetts by a group of colonists in 1657. The first regular ferries began running to the island 20 years later and remained the only way to access the island until well into the 20th century.
Truth be told, the run up to this year's Run for the Roses has been a muddled mess.
Inconsistent performances have been an epidemic. Win a nice prep race, run a dreadful one in the next. One highly touted colt refused to train, twice! And then there are injuries that knocked out Not This Time, One Liner, and Mastery. The top rated 3-year old, Mastery uncorked a scintillating prep race in the San Felipe Stakes in March only to be pulled up moments later with a condylar fracture of his left front leg.
In recent years, the Kentucky Derby has been a race largely dominated by horses favored to win, or in racetrack vernacular, “chalk.” The last four years we've seen Orb, California Chrome, American Pharoah and Nyquist all shine on the first Saturday in May-- each a race day heavy favorite. Many pundits think it's a wide open contest. I'm not one of them. I think Derby 143 comes down to four classy, fast colts who have the ability to open up daylight off the far turn in the biggest race of their young careers on May 6.
With a dazzling stakes debut in the Florida Derby in late March, trainer Todd Pletcher's Always Dreaming is getting a lot of attention. The bay colt's winning time of 1:47.47 was the fastest Florida Derby since Alydar’s 1:47 flat in 1978. Though he won the Florida Derby by a decisive five lengths, he did not notch a triple-digit Beyer Figure, earning a 97. Over the past 25 years, no prep race has produced more Kentucky Derby winners than the Florida Derby, including Nyquist in 2016.
Faugh a Ballagh is a 19th century Irish battle cry meaning "clear the way."
Even mild-mannered trainer Graham Motion must have been tempted to shout that command watching his 3-year old colt Irish War Cry storm down the stretch in the $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct racetrack on April 8. The New Jersey bred son of Curlin now has 110 qualifying points which punches his ticket to the seemingly wide open Kentucky Derby on May 6.
With new jockey Rajiv Maragh in the irons, Irish War Cry was content to sit patiently behind Battalion Runner down the backstretch. When Maragh asked the colt to go, he blew by his rival just inside the eighth pole and drew off to win by 3 1/2-lengths striding out beautifully at the wire. Racing in the gold and maroon stripes of Isabelle de Tomaso, he recorded a big 101 Beyers Speed Figure in the 1 1/8-mile race.
The victory enabled the handsome chestnut to rebound from a head-scratching seventh place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in early March.
He's back. That's right, Tony Manero. The down-on-his-luck, street-wise kid from Brooklyn who hungers to escape his dead-end job and reign as the "disco king" at the local club.
Flash back to the late 1970s when shiny polyester shirts open to the waist, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes and the disco "four-on-the floor" beat were all the rage. Wrapping up its 2016-2017 season, Vero's Riverside Theatre serves up the soaring sounds and pulsating rhythms of Saturday Night Fever, running through April 30.
The musical is framed on Nik Cohn’s New York Magazine story, “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” which turned into the culture-bending blockbuster 1977 film, starring John Travolta. It follows the lives of a group of working-class Italian-Americans in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1976, who despaired at their jobs and lived for their local disco called 2001 Odyssey where they madly danced the night away.
First performed on stage in London in 1998, the musical ran for sixteen months and received three nominations for Laurence Olivier Awards. Directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, Saturday Night Fever opened at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on October 21, 1999 and ran for 501 performances.
Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is not your typical scientist. He talks about love and emotions.
You see his passion when he recalls a trip with one of his young daughters to a faraway island where the sky and water were blue and bright or when he speaks about lessons he learned from his late waterman father. Watch Nichols while he talks about his own experience with sea turtle conservation in Baja, Calif. and you see his eyes light up.
Recently Nichols gave a warm and engaging talk at the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) in Vero Beach. He is the author of the 2014 national best-selling book "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do."
Tall, trim and handsome, Nichols, 49, was dressed in a navy blue dress shirt untucked over jeans and boots. He shared the many ways in which water positively impacts our minds, bodies, overall health and sense of well-being. Showing how an ocean, or any natural body of water, can have a unique relationship with the human psyche.
For the past fifteen years I’ve been a contributing writer to a variety of national & regional magazines, prominent daily news-papers and websites. I have written about an array of topics such as arts & culture, chefs, food & drink, business entrepreneurs, travel, history, thoroughbred racing, and the animal and natural world.
I'm currently a regular arts & culture contributor to WFIT's website (the NPR radio station in Melbourne.), Vero Beach Magazine and Florida Today newspaper on a number of topics. Over recent years my work has been published regularly in Blood-Horse, Long Island Boating World and The Hunt and PA Equestrian magazines.
I am a regular contributor to the websites JustLuxe.com and SeeTheSouth.com. JustLuxe is an online magazine featuring the best of luxury lifestyle and travel, while SeeTheSouth features truly unique southern destinations. My travel articles also regularly appear in Florida Today, Long Island Boating world and the Delaware County Times, a major daily newspaper just outside Philly.
I've also contributed a variety of articles to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, the Delaware County Times, and the Montgomery County Newspapers. I have been an Arts & Culture correspondent for Newsworks, the website for WHYY-TV (PBS in Philadelphia). I have been a correspondent to ESPN.com, America's Best Racing, the Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary.
After spending the past two decades in Wilmington, Delaware, my wife Jane, our Toller retriever Smarty and I have moved to Melbourne Beach, Fla. Located on a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, Melbourne Beach sits on the southern end of Florida's "Space Coast." The famed coastal highway A1A runs directly along the Atlantic. Melbourne Beach (pop. 3,000) offers unspoiled beaches with sparkling blue-green waters and thousands of beautiful seabirds and long-legged shorebirds.
Head north 35 miles on A1A and you arrive at Cape Canaveral, for decades our nation's gateway to exploring and understanding our universe. Today, Cape Canaveral is a hub for many of the most exciting new private space projects such as SpaceX, the rocket and spacecraft company founded by Elon Musk (manufacturer of Tesla vehicles). Upwards of 30 launches are planned in 2017.
Back down to earth traveling on two-lane A1A south from Melbourne Beach's compact business area brings you to a series of secluded and undeveloped natural beaches. Bonsteel Park's two-acre beach provides an excellent vantage point to catch glimpses of passing dolphins, while the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is recognized as the most important nesting area for loggerhead turtles in the western hemisphere. It's also home to the gigantic leatherback turtles.
Nearby is Sebastian Inlet State Park which connects the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean. Its jetty break is recognized as one of the surf world's high-performance hot spots. Three generations of world-class surfers have surfed here, including 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The 600-acre park is also celebrated for world-class fishing, and plenty of seabirds and wildlife.
Through my writing over the past decade I have traveled to spectacular destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. and Sun Valley, Idaho; Cody, Wyoming/Yellowstone Park; Saratoga Springs, the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and Rhinebeck, New York; Port Clyde and Monheghan Island, Maine; Avalon and Stone Harbor, New Jersey; Middleburg, Charlottesville and Richmond, Virginia.
Other travel adventures have included Tampa and St. Petersburg, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Florida; and St. Simons and Jekyll Island, Georgia. My travel articles thoughtfully explore the history of the region along with museums, music and the arts, chefs and restaurateurs, wineries and craft breweries, outdoor and sporting adventures as well as profiling intriguing personalities of those regions.
In addition to my writing career I owned a marketing company where I represented a diversified list of clients in the areas of publicity, marketing and business development-- such as the famed Baldwin's Book Barn, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Kahunaville restaurant chain. In another life I was the founder, publisher and editor of Life Sports Magazine.
Along with Jane and Smarty I look forward to writing about new adventures in Melbourne Beach, the "Space Coast" and other Florida destinations. That's Smarty below with his pals Willie and Nelson.